Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Letter to Barack Obama
Dear Barack Obama,
I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother’s (Madelyn Dunham’s) illness. My heart goes out to you. And at the same time I am inspired by your decision to interrupt your campaign to go see her. In fact it makes me proud to be an American to see the Democratic nominee for President honor a grandmother in this way. Go and get her blessing. I feel so strongly about this because my grandmother was special, too.
My grandmother, Doris Ekhardt Rideout (Nana to me), taught me the wisdom in listening, for listening is love. Throughout my life Nana patiently and lovingly listened to my ideas, both the good ideas, and the not-so-good ideas. In her listening there was a sense of care, excitement (like bubbly joy) and curiosity. Her ability to listen was absolutely unwavering and nonjudgmental. There were times when I felt I was challenging her sensibilities by what I was saying, but she stayed curious, and never shut me down. This allowed me to trust her and to open up more and share more than I had planned on, and sometimes more than I knew was there. She was always happy to hear from me. She honored my being here in a way that I cherish deeply. This relationship was built over my lifetime, until Saturday, March 03, 2007 when she left her body. For me, this experience of having been witnessed in this way by someone for so many years was the best gift in my life.
Listening creates space for the person who is being listened to. This space creates room for us to see who we are, and when we listen to each other with a sense of openness, joy and curiosity there is even more potential for us to learn and grow. The gift of listening is one I use in my relationships with others, and it helps me in my work as a yoga teacher. My students get the benefit of Nana’s ear, when life’s discoveries and losses come up for them. I believe that we all want to be heard, and that when we can be truly heard with care and love, there is a vast potential for healing. Nana was a great teacher in my life.
Thank you, Nana! Your memory means so much to me. May your wisdom shine through in my actions. And Nana, if you can, will you see that Barack Obama makes it safely to the White House? I’m sure you would have voted for him. And whenever Madelyn Dunham finds her way (no rush) will you welcome her? You will probably be great friends.